My Health Story

by Jeb Banner

I believe people should talk more about health. So I want to share my health story, where I am right now and how I got here. I hope it provides some value to you and I would love to hear your story.

I was raised by an extremely health conscious mother but did a rebellious 180 once I was on my own. Amish milk, eggs and chickens were replaced with Mac'n'cheese, pizza and bagels. I lived off bad carbs and didn't think much about what I ate. 

As I entered my 20s I slowly woke up to the fact that I had a body. I don't think I gave it much thought as a kid. I never connected my health to what I was putting in my body. I really started to make this connection when I was in my 30s. I know, not too bright, but that was how I lived and thought.

As my health problems increased I was forced to get serious. What were once annoyances were becoming real issues and I accepted that it was a problem I had to address.

One night last year I felt hot, swollen and sick after a big meal. This was not the first time a big meal had made me feel that way but I was finally fed up. I spent hours researching online and came to the conclusion I had to do a fast and cleanse. I had to hit the reset button. I didn't know what else to do.

I went 3 days without food, taking only fiber and supplements. It wasn't easy or fun but it felt good. My mind was clear even if my body was weak. As I began to reintroduce foods I became acutely aware of how they impacted me. I put myself in the mindset of a drug trial participant- is this a placebo or am I feeling something? I kept a food diary on my phone for a couple weeks to connect the dots. Then came the fateful bagel.

One day, about four months ago, I ate a bagel that changed my life. Yes, bagels can change lives. It was the first bagel since the fast. It felt like I had taken a sleeping pill. After I woke up from a nap I decided it was time to go gluten free. I'd done the research and all my conditions pointed towards a possible gluten sensitivity. 

I'm not one for diets and changing what I eat. I don't think my wife thought I was serious about staying gluten free. In fact, I've sucked at every attempt in my life to change what I eat. But this didn't seem optional. 

The change was almost overnight. Within a few days I felt better than I had in years. My energy levels were high, my mind was clear, allergies that had been getting progressively worse began disappearing, my digestion settled down and I started losing weight. In fact, I went from 225 down to 210 and have stayed there for months without worrying about anything but avoiding gluten. I do miss beer, bread, pasta, etc. But there are some good alternatives out there and many restuarants have gluten free menus or options. 

Not everything is better. I still struggle with Psoriasis, mostly arthritic, and I am considering giving up all grains and dairy for a while to see if that helps. Also, I have an arrhythmia that I take medicine for, but I believe I could address through diet as well. Which means I should probably cut back on caffiene and alcohol. Those two are the hardest for me to give up. Gluten is a breeze in comparison. 

My biggest takeaway is pretty simple: your digestive tract is the key to health. Or, to quote an old adage: you are what you eat. So many of our health issues start with what we eat. Also, so much of our immune system resides in our gut. They've even linked digestive issues to Parkinson's (which my father has) and other diseases seemingly unrelated to digestive issues. What passes between your digestive lining and your blood stream can have a serious impact on your health. 

So there's my health story so far. What's yours?